[Fsfe-ie] Re: 2004 dates for the EU Competitiveness Council

Robert Dewar dewar at gnat.com
Wed Dec 3 14:30:06 CET 2003

James Heald wrote:

> Despite a certain amount of adverse discussion on the lists, the Nordic 
> Green Left group had tabled a (somewhat uncertainly worded) amendment to 
> exempt software which was open-sourced from the strictures of patent law.

I must say that such an exemption would strike me as totally unfair 
competition, and again, I speak for my company, which would presumably 
benefit from this unfairness.

The choice of licenses for distribution of software should be up to the 
authors, and should be part of the general competitive environment. Let
free competition determine what in the long run is the best approach for 
production and licensing of software.

Government inteference in the free market in this respect would be 
totally inappropriate.

Yes, software patents are a menace, but they are a menace for 
proprietary and open source/free software alike. After all it was
microsoft that got clobbered for IE plugins, and Palm that got clobbered 
for Grafitti, both good examples of patents interfering with innovation.
In practice software patents have been hitting proprietary software 
vendors more aggressively, but that's not due to some fundamental 
difference between proprietary and free software, but rather to other 
factors, one of which is that free software tends to be very careful
about patents. There is a reason why linux does not have good font 
smoothing algorithms, and gcc did not use register coloring for many

Of course as we all know, being careful is not good enough, and sooner 
or later, we will see a big software patent case revolving around Free 
or Open Source software.

Robert Dewar

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